U.S. stocks mixed as Ukraine offsets Yellen speech; Dow slides 0.22%

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Investing.com - U.S. stocks finished Friday mixed after four straight days of gains, as escalating tensions between Ukraine and Russia offset an upbeat take on the U.S. economy from Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen.

At the close of U.S. trading, the Dow 30 fell 0.22%, the S&P 500 index fell 0.20%, while the NASDAQ Composite index rose 0.14%.

The Volatility S&P 500 index, which measures the outlook for market volatility, was down 2.47% at 11.47.

The overall economy and the labor market are improving though the Fed will still take its time raising interest rates, markets concluded Friday after Fed Chair Janet Yellen addressed the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City's annual Jackson Hole symposium.

"More jobs have now been created in the recovery than were lost in the downturn, with payroll employment in May of this year finally exceeding the previous peak in January 2008. Job gains in 2014 have averaged 230,000 a month, up from the 190,000 a month pace during the preceding two years," Yellen said in prepared remarks of her speech.

"The unemployment rate, at 6.2 percent in July, has declined nearly 4 percentage points from its late 2009 peak. Over the past year, the unemployment rate has fallen considerably, and at a surprisingly rapid pace."

Yellen's comments drew applause on Wall Street, as her speech also suggested that the Fed will still take its time raising interest rates to avoid disrupting recovery.

"Underutilization of labor resources still remains significant," Yellen said.

"Given this assessment and the Committee's expectation that inflation will gradually move up toward its longer-run objective, the Committee reaffirmed its view 'that it likely will be appropriate to maintain the current target range for the federal funds rate for a considerable time after our current asset purchase program ends, especially if projected inflation continues to run below the Committee's 2 percent longer-run goal, and provided that longer-term inflation expectations remain well anchored.'"

Geopolitical concerns sparked profit taking, especially considering U.S. equities indices have posted solid gains over the past four days.

Ukraine declared on Friday that Russia had launched a "direct invasion" of its territory after Moscow sent a convoy of aid trucks across the border into eastern Ukraine where pro-Russian rebels are fighting government forces.

Leading Dow Jones Industrial Average performers included Merck & Company Inc (NYSE:MRK), up 0.54%, Nike Inc (NYSE:NKE), up 0.45%, and Pfizer Inc (NYSE:PFE), up 0.33%.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average's worst performers included General Electric Company (NYSE:GE), down 1.08%, Johnson & Johnson (NYSE:JNJ), down 1.05%, and Cisco Systems Inc (NASDAQ:CSCO), down 0.98%.

European indices, meanwhile, ended the day lower.

After the close of European trade, the DJ Euro Stoxx 50 fell 0.81%, France's CAC 40 fell 0.93%, while Germany's DAX fell 0.66%. Meanwhile, in the U.K. the FTSE 100 fell 0.04%.

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This article appears in: Investing , Forex and Currencies

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